Front view of three men watching American football

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Fantasy football is a great way to enhance your football-watching experience and enjoy the game on a different level. In the days before the internet, fantasy football leagues and league-related “business” were conducted using spreadsheets and stat lines from the Monday morning newspaper. Needless to say, playing fantasy or running a fantasy football league used to be a whole lot of work. Today, fans can play fantasy football from anywhere in the world using their phone to manage their rosters and players using up to the second stat lines and projections. Undoubtedly, the best fantasy football platforms make it easy to play with friends or other football fans around the globe. 

Speaking of enjoying football with friends, a recent study found that sports fans are willing to end friendships over sports. A survey of 2,000 American football fans found that a staggering 52 percent of respondents are willing to call it quits with a friend because that person cheers for a rival football team. Furthermore, the survey sought to discover where fans prefer to watch their favorite team play. Just over 35 percent of fans say they prefer to watch in person at the stadium while 30 percent of respondents prefer to watch their team play from the comfort of their own home. 

Regardless of where you watch or who you watch with, no one can deny that fantasy football makes the game more enjoyable. There’s just something about building a custom fantasy roster that draws fans into playing. Building a fantasy team from the ground up might not ease the pain of your favorite team losing but it sure helps take your mind off the situation.

And, according to a recent study, fans prefer real-life teams that are built in a similar fashion. The study found that fans prefer championship teams comprised of homegrown talent as opposed to teams stacked with pricey free agents. Researchers at the University of Kansas surveyed 1,500 Americans and found that sports fans prefer championship teams comprised of drafted or ‘homegrown’ players as opposed to teams with rosters comprised of expensive free-agent players. Apparently, sports fans appreciate the hard work and dedication it takes to build a championship team from the ground up – just like in fantasy football. 

So, which online platforms are the best for playing fantasy football? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 expert review websites in an effort to bring you a consensus list of the best fantasy football platforms. Our list comprises the five most frequently listed platforms across these sites. Think we missed your favorite? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below! 

A man on a mobile phone
A man on a mobile phone (Photo by Malte Helmhold on Unsplash)

The List: Best Fantasy Football Platforms, According to Fans

1. ESPN Fantasy Football

The top spot on the list of the best fantasy football platforms belongs to ESPN Fantasy Football. ESPN is known as the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” so it comes as no surprise that they offer one of the best fantasy football sites in the world. 

What the ESPN Fantasy Football app looks like
What the ESPN Fantasy Football app looks like (fantasy.espn.com)

“The most used and widely known fantasy football website and app on the market is ESPN’s flagship website. ESPN has been at the forefront of sports for decades and fantasy football is no exception. The sports channel regularly broadcasts commercials promoting fantasy football and dedicates daily segments to talking about the best moves you can make. The ESPN fantasy football app and website are free to use, making it accessible for anyone wanting to start a league. The interface is easy to use with the ability to swap players in and out of your lineup. ESPN also has a dedicated team of writers and analysts who give you feedback about players and performances,” explains One37PM

ESPN is the host of Monday Night Football, and its stations offer a plethora of other football-related programming and shows. The ESPN website has been at the forefront of sports news and insights since the early days of the internet. The premier sports station continues that tradition by offering a top fantasy football platform.  

“Everything is simple and easy to use, including the ESPN Fantasy Football app. You can read fantasy football content from various ESPN personalities, though some content will require an ESPN+ subscription. The IBM Watson tool is also used to help new players decide which players to start based on projections and expert analysis. Even their fantasy football draft software is easy to use. If you’re a new fantasy football player, ESPN Fantasy Football will be great for you,” adds FanBuzz

One of the most important aspects of great fantasy football platforms is simplicity, and ESPN makes it especially easy to play fantasy football. Whether fans want to play with friends, run a league, or just give fantasy football a try with other beginners, ESPN offers what you’re looking for in a fantasy football platform. 

“ESPN has a large piece of the fantasy pie. It’s big, it’s red, it’s flashy, but at its core, ESPN Fantasy Football exemplifies simplicity. The FFL Toolkit itself is a reason to host your league on ESPN. Arguably the most interesting tool is the customizable ranking ‘report cards’ sent out weekly, recapping that week’s games, making for some excellent trash talk,” exclaims FantasyJocks

2. Yahoo Fantasy Sports

Next up on the list of the best platforms for fantasy football is none other than Yahoo Sports and its fantasy football platform. Yahoo Sports is a great site for news and updates, but the internet giant also offers an excellent fantasy platform for players of all levels

Yahoo! Sports app interface
Yahoo! Sports app interface (mobile.yahoo.com)

“[T]he Yahoo Fantasy Football app has come a long way. I just started using this app last year, and I use most of the information I obtain in this app on my other leagues. While it isn’t incredibly flashy, the interface is easy to navigate and the access to information is easier than any other app… The Yahoo app is making incredible strides and now I, and many others I know, agree that this platform is a serious contender for the best fantasy football app,” writes ZDNET.

Yahoo offers a wide range of information and analysis related to fantasy football performers. However, if you’re looking for something a little quicker and easier than a season-long fantasy football league, Yahoo offers fun game modes designed to enhance your football-watching experience

“Yahoo’s platform offers access to different modes, including Survival and Pick’em, as well as the ability to create your own league, renew a previous one, or join someone else’s existing league. The app’s draft board has been updated with a new design, and it makes it easier to stay in touch with friends via features like threaded messaging and the ability to pin important messages,” adds Slash Gear

Some leagues are looking for something a little more in-depth than a basic fantasy football league setup. Yahoo accounts for this and offers both a free and paid fantasy football platform designed to meet your league’s needs and unique format. 

“Yahoo also has rankings for players and fantasy analysis, and both paid and free leagues are available. They make it simple to join and provide access to public leagues. The user-friendly layout makes it simple to access and use all of the game’s features, including the draft, the trade block, and the waiver wire,” furthers App Geeker

3. Sleeper

The third spot on the list of the best platforms for fantasy football belongs to Sleeper. Sleeper is a play on fantasy “sleepers” which are players who perform better than anyone anticipated, so it stands to reason that Sleeper is sneakily a top platform for playing fantasy football.

“For my money, Sleeper is the best fantasy football app on the market. Initially an alert-based app, Sleeper has built their platform into an all-encompassing fantasy juggernaut that has reshaped the market and become the benchmark for others to match. For those who watch their games on NFL RedZone, the alerts come on so fast that they tend to be ahead of the broadcast. In 2021, Sleeper added Best Ball and auction leagues to their options. They also included the ‘squads’ feature, which allows you to play prop contests against league-mates or fellow Sleeper players for real money,” explains Pro Football Network

Sleeper is popular because of its dedication to providing the best online fantasy football experience possible. Sleeper is also a great option for anyone trying to follow the football action but can’t be in front of the TV for 12 hours every Sunday through the fall. 

“If you play fantasy football on another platform, there’s a good chance you also have the Sleeper app for alerts. As a personal user of the app, the alerts you receive are immediate… On the app, when you’re in a league, the league chat is prominent. It’s not just talking via message boards or something slow — it’s like being in a Facebook group message or group text chat. Sleeper is a highly modern and exciting fantasy app,” adds FanBuzz

Sleeper advertises the only in-app chat feature. The in-app feature allows users to talk strategy, offer trades, or simply talk trash to opponents. 

“Sleeper is a relatively new fantasy football platform, but that doesn’t diminish just how great of a platform they provide. Most notably, Sleeper prides itself on providing premier research tools and data for its users to make highly educated decisions and set the best lineups possible… The platform also prides itself in providing an ad-free experience and a wide range of scoring customization options. All in all, while it may not have the same notoriety as some of the other platforms, Sleeper is a great option for anyone looking to form a fantasy football league,” furthers Rookie Road

4. NFL Fantasy

Up next on the list of the best fantasy football platforms is NFL Fantasy. This is the platform of the National Football League (NFL) itself, so you know it has to be a quality site for playing and managing your fantasy football league and team

“The NFL saw the surging growth of fantasy football applications and knew they were missing a piece of the pie, so in 2010 they launched their own fantasy football website. They make sure every stadium in the country that hosts NFL games also shows the fantasy football stats of players during the game. The NFL’s fantasy football website is free to use and offers a lot of expert analysis around the sport. Their site is unsurprisingly marketed as the ‘Official Fantasy Football website of the NFL’ and they have a number of dedicated writers and analysts who will give you weekly information around players and their availability. Staying locked in on this information will help give you an edge against your opponent,” explains One37PM

If anyone is going to make money off of football, in any form, it’s the NFL. The NFL didn’t always embrace fantasy football, but it didn’t take long for the league to catch up with the interests of its fanbase. 

“The NFL has done a lot to embrace fantasy sports as a key component to the league’s popularity. Everything from mandating that fantasy stats be shown in stadiums, to hosting the official fantasy football service of the NFL. NFL Fantasy Leagues are free, and the look/feel is clean and engaging. The website and tablet/mobile app flows very well and makes sense to even the newest of users, which means there is never an excuse for not using the waiver wire or setting your lineup… The consistency of the mobile app and the overall ease of use make the NFL.com a great place to host your league,” furthers FantasyJocks

The NFL wants to control the flow of information surrounding its players and teams, and the NFL Fantasy app is a great medium for doing so. The NFL offers fans up-to-the-moment insights and stats from around the league, and they do it in a fun and engaging way. 

“We all love having news straight from the source and that’s what the NFL Fantasy app provides. Since it is the official app of the NFL, users will get the most up-to-date player statistics, injury reports, and news circling around the league. But, while the news is fantastic, the analysis provided in preparation is behind many of its competitors. The interface and overall layout of the app have changed drastically over the years, arguably the third best interface behind Yahoo and ESPN. The app uses a unique font and a bright color scheme to create a more ‘fun’ atmosphere,” explains ZDNET

5. CBS Sports

Rounding out the list of the best fantasy football platforms is none other than CBS Sports fantasy football. CBS has been airing NFL games for generations, so it stands to reason that the broadcasting and media giant would dive into the realm of fantasy football. “CBS has a very similar offering to the Yahoo app, but where CBS seems to plant their flag is with their league formatting, player rankings, and expert analysis. As a top fantasy football news source, they give you what you need to help everyone in your league put their best foot forward,” explains The Fantasy Front Office

CBS has been at the forefront of the fantasy football craze ever since it became extremely popular in the early ‘90s. In fact, the CBS Sports fantasy football platform is one of the first of its kind. “Since fantasy football started to become popular in the 1990s, CBS Sports has been at the forefront of online leagues. They were actually the first network to give users access to an online fantasy football program, instantly making it popular amongst fans… The CBS Sports Fantasy Football website works similarly to Yahoo and ESPN’s. The interface is easy to use and makes it easy to swap players in and out of your lineup. They also have their own team of writers and analysts who give daily updated information about players and their availability. If you’re looking for one of the most tried and tested fantasy sites around, look no further than CBS Sports,” exclaims One37PM

Again, CBS Sports broadcasts NFL games almost every Sunday throughout the NFL season. The network does a great job of combining its NFL broadcasts with fantasy football stats and updates as the games play out on live TV. It makes for the ultimate reality TV show and gaming experience. 

“Given that CBS broadcasts many NFL games on their networks each year, the company has the opportunity to promote their fantasy platform as much as possible. CBS Sports is a great brand for hardcore fantasy football fans who want a customizable and extensive experience,” adds Rookie Road.  

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

About Matthew Sherdan

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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